Saturday, 24 April 2010

Rain in Spain unlikely to fall on planes

Spanish scientists are developing a new ionising technique to ensure that planes repel rainwater.

Many speech therapists have long considered the phrase “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plane” to be useful in the improvement of their patients. However, over time, many have started to believe that this means planes flying into Spanish airspace will suffer a drenching. Some have even taken the unusual action of flying to Portugal and hitchhiking to their Spanish holidays, meaning Spanish airports are losing out on lucrative descending, levelling and landing taxes.

Fortunately a number of Spanish scientists were tipped off by a group from Bristol. Known collectively as the Committee for Understanding of No Travel in Spain, these easily led holiday makers have believed the myth for years. “We set up a group on a popular social networking site to spread the word of the possible need for an umbrella when disembarking at Spanish airports. One of the group, Frankie, has witnessed it first hand. However, we have been reassured by the scientists who have convinced us that Frankie’s experience could have been a coincidence.”

To dispel the myth could take a long time; with this in mind, the scientists are working around the clock on an ionisation technique that would encourage rain to travel around the body and wings of aircraft, giving visual relief to thousands of fliers. “If people can watch the rain literally avoiding the aircraft, I’m sure they’d be relieved. This could help as they leave the craft too, as the rain would be forced away from the open door.”

The news has been welcomed by travellers the world over, though flights to Spain are unlikely to rise until the system is in place. “We trust that it can happen”, says Gill Rope of Taunton. “We just won’t be using Spanish airports until it’s tried and tested”. Despite this, scientists are unconcerned about the effectiveness of the system despite what it will mean for the Spanish economy. Professor Robot Wilson, head of ionisation and rehydrating small mammals, explains. “If it doesn’t work, we’ll just lie” he told us in complete confidence. “It half looks like the rain is repelled when it bounces off the wings anyway. We’ll just tell people that it’s due to the technique and that our work is done.

“This is guaranteed to be a 100% success.” He added, before chuckling and throwing his head back manically.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Review: "To Say Goodbye"

To Say Goodbye

Terry Lander (Lyvit Publishing)

You are not really ever prepared for this book. It is told from the point of view of a father who is writing to his three year old daughter, knowing he is dying from a brain tumour and will not see her grow up.

The first thing to mention is that although we are made aware that this in diary format from the start, the way it is written immediately forces us to accept the reality of the situation. We are both the father, tenderly talking to his daughter - but also we read as the daughter one day will, there is a real sense of empathy and fragility. Too often, books in this style suffer from gimmickry, or at the very least simply become a collection of pithy blog style musings. The clever part here – by leaving out the traditional constructs of story telling, as we read, our imaginations are given free reign, and their world is constructed with ease. There is no need for endless descriptive prose – the story builds around us as we delve further.

It is rare when adopting such a style that a book can evoke a world so fully. From the first page, we are thrown head first into a challenging and somewhat upsetting scenario. There is a child like naivety to the language that detracts from the sheer scale of the horror of cancer, and somewhat sugar coats it. This leaves some of the descriptions covered in a shroud of innocence, as if the darkness is bubbling under the surface. There is a tender sheath laid over a horrible truth, and it goes to create an odd mixture of calm and terror.

For all of these contradictions that so effectively reveal the story, one thing remains – the sheer beauty and conviction of the words on offer. It’s very British –very controlled, an almost serene dignity. There’s decorum here –it’s abundant. It has an edge though –the entries tell a girl of the things she did when she was younger, with which the character may have no memory of. There is oddness to reading a story about yourself with which you have no recollection, and this surreal state of mind permeates the page.

The tag line is “all they have is hope” and you feel this. Reading these words is like clutching onto hope, onto life. And that’s the ultimate extraction; this is joyous, full of hope -marking an end of a life but celebrating the start of another in the sweetest of ways – explaining the murky past to a damaged soul. It’s poignant and rather lovely in parts. Like distant symphonies, the space allows the reader to breathe, there’s much room to manoeuvre. The entries have a subtle grace about them; the book is filled with a vibrant compassion. It’s careful, yet in being this way, it spills over onto something altogether more encompassing.

Mark Hendy

"To Say Goodbye" is available from for £7.50